Pence Visits Mosque, Declares Indonesia's Moderate Islam 'an Inspiration to the World'
Vice President Mike Pence visited the Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta today during the first visit by a Trump administration official to Indonesia.
The Masjid Istiqlal, the largest mosque in southeast Asia that can accommodate 200,000 worshipers, is the same one President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited during Obama's 2010 trip to the world's most populous Muslim country.
As is custom, Pence removed his shoes while wife Karen Pence and daughters Audrey and Charlotte also donned headscarves.
The family met Grand Imam Haji Nasaruddin Umar and other officials, toured the prayer hall and saw how the five-times-a-day call to prayer is done.
Pence then joined and spoke at a closed-door interfaith dialogue with representatives from Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Islam.
At Merdeka Palace remarks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo before the mosque tour, Pence said President Trump "sent me here as a sign of the high value the United States places on our strategic partnership with Indonesia."
"As the second and third largest democracies in the world, our two countries share many common values -- including freedom, the rule of law, human rights, and religious diversity," he said. "The United States is proud to partner with Indonesia to promote and protect these values, the birthright of all people."
Pence talked about multiple areas of cooperation, including leveling the playing field "to ensure that American exporters can fully participate in the Indonesia market, the same freedom that Indonesia exporters have had in many sectors in the United States for many years."
"The United States is also proud to be one of Indonesia’s oldest and most engaged defense partners. And under President Trump we are firmly committed to continuing to collaborate on the security of both of our peoples. A stronger defense partnership will serve us well as we confront the various security threats and challenges that we now face. And of course, one of the greatest threats we face is the rise and spread of terrorism," he added.
"...Finally, with President Trump’s leadership, the United States intends to deepen our cultural ties with the nation and the good people of Indonesia. Later today I’m greatly humbled to have the privilege to visit Indonesia’s national mosque, where I’ll have the opportunity to speak with leaders of many faiths. And, Mr. President, I’m very much looking forward to that visit and that honor."
Pence noted that "the largest majority Muslim country, Indonesia’s tradition of moderate Islam, frankly, is an inspiration to the world."
"In your nation, as in mine, religion unifies -- it doesn’t divide. It gives us hope for a brighter future, and we are all grateful for the great inspiration that Indonesia provides for the world," the vice president added. "Rest assured, under President Trump, the United States welcomes all who share our values and strive for that brighter future."